Deleted Scenes From Once Upon Stilettos
It’s hard to come up with good “deleted scenes” from this book because most of my revisions involved taking existing scenes to the next level, but I have some snippets that got cut from the book, mostly due to length, but in some cases because the first draft of the book seemed to consist primarily of scenes with Katie and Owen walking to and from the subway station.
Katie and Owen Have Dinner
This snippet comes from the scene early in the book when Katie and Owen go out for dinner after work. It’s a fragment of their conversation that got cut for length because the book was running long and this part didn’t really have much to do with the story. It picks up after Katie tells Owen about the wine tasting date with Ethan.
“It sounds kind of intimidating,” Owen said.
That took me aback. I’d seen him take on a rogue wizard in a magical battle with no fear. The thought of him intimidated by something like a wine tasting was almost unimaginable. “Intimidating?”
A faint pink flush spread across his cheeks, and he focused on tearing the paper strip off his silverware roll as he answered. “My foster parents – the people who brought me up – were strict teetotalers, so I didn’t have any experience with wine or anything else like it when I was growing up, and I never really got into it. And it seems like you can’t just drink it. You have to analyze it and describe it and, well, that sometimes seems like too much effort for me.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “My thoughts exactly. I just want to drink what I enjoy. I don’t want to make a hobby out of it. My parents didn’t drink, either. We lived in a dry county. You had to drive about fifty miles to buy beer or wine. I’m not opposed to drinking, but I don’t want to think about it too much. I don’t even want to drink all that much, especially not after Saturday night.”
He looked up at me with a smile that he looked like he was trying to fight. “Why, what happened Saturday night?”
Katie and Owen Walk to the Subway and Discuss Thanksgiving Plans
This was one of the first “walking to the subway” scenes I rewrote. In the printed book, the conversation gets interrupted by the arrival of a harpy that’s stalking them. This is the conversation that was in the first draft, where they discuss their plans for Thanksgiving. You’ll meet Owen’s foster parents in the third book.
We reached the subway station, where we had to stop talking about magic. “What about you?” I asked him once we’d passed the turnstiles and were standing on the platform. “Any big plans for Thanksgiving?” I wasn’t sure I wanted to invite him. Neither my roommates nor my mother would let me hear the end of it if I invited a guy that gorgeous. He’d die of embarrassment from their flirting and hinting by the time dinner was on the table. But I was curious about what plans he might have.
“I’ll be visiting my foster parents,” he said. His face went blank, totally unreadable, and his tone was too flat for me to discern any particular emotion. It wasn’t even the kind of flat tone people used to show they were less than enthused about something. “It’s one of the few command appearances of the year, and I don’t see them nearly often enough, so it’s no hardship to oblige.”
“Difficult relationship?” I asked carefully, not sure it was safe to probe.
“Difficult probably isn’t the right word, but I can’t think of one that fits. There aren’t any screaming fights or family squabbles. But we’re not that close, either. None of us are under any illusion that we were ever a real family.” A wistful look crossed his face, and I suspected he wasn’t aware he’d given that much away, since it seemed like he was working hard to maintain a neutral expression. “I am fond of them, though. They’re just more like friendly casual acquaintances than parents – the kind of people you’re always saying you should get together with but never do.”
A train chose that moment to show up, and I wouldn’t have put it past him to have summoned it himself as a way of getting out of a conversation that was too intimate for comfort. My family might have its share of fights, but it always felt like family. I couldn’t imagine a child growing up in a house where he was constantly aware that it wasn’t really home. It said a lot about the kind of person Owen was deep down inside that he hadn’t grown up to be a serial killer after that kind of childhood.
After the Party
This was mostly cut for length and because it didn’t add a lot to the story. In the printed book, the scene ends with Katie watching Ethan dancing with a heartbroken Trix and thinking about what a nice guy he is. Here, we follow them home.
They were both laughing and out of breath when they returned from the dance floor. “What about it, Katie?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No thanks. You really don’t want me trying to dance. But you two go ahead if you want.”
He glanced at his watch. “Do you want to stay much longer? I have to admit that I’m beat, and after everything that happened before, I’m not exactly in a party mood.”
“I would have to agree.”
He turned to Trix. “Would you like a ride home?”
She looked utterly relieved. “Oh, thank you, please! I didn’t want to fly back alone. Let me go find Ari. I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere!”
As she flitted away I said to Ethan, “That was nice of you. She doesn’t need to be here any longer.”
“Not to mention the fact that it won’t hurt us to have a magic user with us on the way back to Manhattan.”
I looked at him with admiration. “I hadn’t even thought about that. Not that she’s up to doing much damage in the state she’s in.”
“Oh, I don’t know. As pissed-off as she is, I wouldn’t want to be the one to take her on.”
Trix almost looked like her usual self when she returned to us. “I really appreciate this, and I’m sorry if I’m horning in on your date.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I assured her. There would be plenty more dates, and I wasn’t one to abandon a friend in need. I was glad that neither was Ethan.
I was more than a little nervous as we pulled away from the estate. Once we left the protective wards there was no telling what might happen to us. I glanced in Ethan’s direction when we passed the place where we’d been attacked, and I noticed that his jaw was clenched. I felt better once we got on the expressway, but I still didn’t feel entirely safe.
None of us tried to make conversation on the way back. I suspected that Trix was asleep. Ethan kept his eyes on the road, and I kept my eyes peeled for magical mischief. I didn’t let myself relax until we re-entered Manhattan, where I knew we’d be tracked by MSI’s security forces.
Ethan dropped Trix off first, then headed to my place. “Sorry about tonight,” he said. “I thought it would be fun to get together with some people from work. We’re both still learning about their world. I just didn’t expect it to get as wild as it did. That Idris guy is really after you, huh?”
“It seems like it, which is weird. I’m not that valuable. I think I must have ticked him off.”
“Or you’re getting close to his spy.”
“If I am, it’s purely an accident. And tonight wasn’t that bad.”
“No, it wasn’t. It was actually kind of exciting. But next time will be normal, I promise.”
I wasn’t sure that was a promise he could make. I was the one the weirdness seemed to follow around. The only way he could have a normal date would be to go out with someone else.
He pulled over in front of my building. “Thanks for a, well, an interesting evening,” I said.
“Any time. And let me know Monday when you need to get away to pick up your parents. My schedule’s pretty free that day.”
I opened my mouth to protest once more that he didn’t have to do that, but he silenced me with a finger against my lips. “Hush,” he said. “I want to do it.” Then he bent over and kissed me. I gave into the kiss, which was just right for an end-of-date kiss early in a relationship – a hint of promise, but not going too far.
We both pulled away at the same time – another good sign – and I said, “See you Monday, then,” before getting out of the car. I wanted to watch him drive away, but he sat there, and I realized he wasn’t going to drive away until he saw me safely inside the building. Yep, my mom would love him. I unlocked the front door, then gave him a little wave before I went inside.
As I passed the second floor, Mrs. Jacobs opened her door, stuck her head out and said, “You little slut! Coming in at this hour!”
Before she slammed the door shut, I called out, “And a good evening to you, Mrs. Jacobs.” Nothing she said could bring me down.